Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Apparently Georgette Heyer’s work was the author’s inspiration for this book. So, first and foremost, I am embarrassed to say I had no idea who Georgette Heyer was. Agatha Christie? Yes. Georgette Heyer? Nope. So, though some reviewers may cite how wonderful the connection is, this one is clueless.
Was this typical KJ Charles? No. Not at all—nary a body to be found. But lots of loving, a band of gregarious rakes who call themselves the Murder, a sweet, innocent, virginal man with a mischief-making sister who breaks her leg and lands among the rakes—this one has so much more. A body simply wasn’t needed.
Sir Philip Rookwood inherited his estate when his older brother died suddenly after running off with the wife of the Frisby family who lived nearby. The problem to most who knew the Rookwoods is that Philip is the black sheep of the family—the illegitimate son who runs with a crowd of young men, many of whom are outrageous in their personality and their dress. Philip is no doubt thought of as the same since he calls his group “the Murder.” We find out this is deliberate since his friend Corvin’s name means crow, and between Philip’s “rook” and their friend John Raven, they form a murder of crows. These three have been together since their boarding school years when all Philip had were his best friends and Corvin’s family who welcomed him as one of their own.
Guy Frisby and his sister, Amanda, have continued to live in the village for years after their mother brought scandal to them simply because their father gambled away their funds before he died. Their mother’s aunt gave them enough money to stay quietly in the country away from society where their soiled reputation won’t affect her daughters’ chances of making a good match.
Amanda reveals to Guy that she’s authored a scandalous book, Darkdown, featuring Sir Peter Falconwood and his dastardly friends. She admits she based it on rumors about Sir Philip and the men with him, and Guy is mortified. Then when Amanda’s horse throws her on Sir Philip’s land and she has to recuperate at his mansion, Guy vows he won’t leave her side so her reputation remains safe, or as safe as it can be given their history. Once there he meets Philip and his friends and realizes just how much trouble he’s in when he can’t take his eyes from the notorious rake.
As the days go on, Guy learns there’s more about Philip than anyone knows. Aside from being serious about cultivating sugar from beetroot to help his tenant farmers, he’s caring, kind, sweet, and dangerous for Guy’s cravings for men. He’s never acted on his feelings, but his resistance is nil where Philip is concerned and the attraction is mutual. Being thrown together away from the eyes of the rumor mill gives them the opportunity to know each other in carnal ways and the author takes us to a time of innocence and surrender with a light-hearted twist to the romance. One of my favorite scenes is when Guy has his first fellatio experience and realizes the fluid is similar to oysters and he definitely doesn’t like oysters.
While Guy and Philip are occupied, Amanda is still healing from her broken leg and she and her doctor, another of Philip’s friends, are becoming closer. She’s also revealed that she authored Darkdown, the scandalous novel which delights Philip’s friends, especially Corvin, who sees himself in a promiscuous character and spreads the word to his London friends that this is a book that must be read. Things progress nicely until the bubble bursts and Guy and Amanda’s aunt and uncle arrive to lay down the law and break up the events at the mansion.
A must read, this is KJ Charles’s lightest romance to date and she’s captured the sweet innocence of Guy Frisby perfectly. She’s also built intriguing character sketches of Philip’s other friends so I certainly hope we get to see them in their own books in the future. Very highly recommended and not to be missed.
Cover art is charming and works perfectly for this novel.
Sales Link: Amazon
ebook, 224 pages
Expected publication: October 11th 2018 by KJC Books